Africa: Malabo Protocol: Legal and institutional implications of the merged and expanded African Court - Snapshots

03 May 2017
Amnesty International
Document type: 
In June 2014, the African Union (AU) adopted the Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human rights (Malabo Protocol). The Protocol extends the jurisdiction of the yet-to-be established African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) to crimes under international law and transnational crimes. The Court will have jurisdiction to try 14 different crimes, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The ACJHR, as envisaged in the Malabo Protocol, can play a vastly positive role in a continent persistently afflicted by the scourge of conflict and impunity for crimes under international law. However, there are a number of concerns and implications arising from the proposal to expand the jurisdiction of the ACJHR. With an expanded jurisdiction, it is doubtful whether the Court with 16 judges will have the capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver on its mandate. It is also unclear whether the AU will have the requisite resources to sustain an efficient ACJHR. The immunity clause included in the Malabo Protocol violates international consensus and practice by providing immunities to heads of states and senior state officials. The report calls on AU member states to amend specific provisions of the Malabo Protocol. It also calls on civil society organisation and citizens to engage with their governments and the AU to address these concerns and to ensure that the ACJHR, if and when it is established, becomes the most effective possible regional court.